KARACHI, Sept 2: An anti-terrorism court ordered on Tuesday the officials of a London-based TV channel to telecast the unconditional and unqualified apology they tendered in the court in a contempt of court case.
Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the ATC-3, who initiated the contempt of court proceedings against the officials of the ARY Digital for telecasting derogatory remarks on the judiciary by a condemned prisoner, fixed September 11 for the next hearing.
An attorney appearing on behalf of managing director of the TV channel, Mohammed Salman Iqbal, and anchorman Dr Shahid Masood, submitted their written apologies before the court.
“Since both the contemners have not contested the matter and tendered their unconditional and unqualified apologies duly supported with no objection from the counsel for the applicant, the unconditional apology tendered by both of them is accepted with further warning to them not to telecast such type of interviews in which derogatory, insulting or defamatory views of convicted/condemned prisoners of any court are recorded”, the judge ordered.
The judge also ordered: “They both shall also telecast their such unconditional and unqualified apology in their next available programme and should also apologize to the complainant, Fazalur Rehman, and a video cassette of the apology would be submitted in court within a week hereof”.
The contempt of court proceedings against S. M. Shakeel, Abdur Rauf, Javed Hasan Ansari, and Dr Shahid Masood of the TV channel, the provincial jail chief, Brig Nisar Mehar, superintendent of Central Prison, Karachi, Rashid Saeed, and a condemned prisoner, Shaikh Muhammed Amjad, were initiated on the application filed by Fazalur Rahman.
The IG of prisons also appeared before the court and filed his written reply in the court. He submitted that he had not been aware of the recording, nor did he grant permission to anyone for the interview.
The judge withdrew the proceedings against Mr Mehar as no material was available on record to show that he had granted permission to the TV team.
As for jail superintendent Rashid Saeed, the judge observed that he, in his reply, had tried to justify his act regarding allowing permission to the ARY Digital TV team. “He has also quoted certain cases in justification of his reply, as such his case needs further inquiry by framing the charge against him.
An advocate appeared for Abdur Rauf and told the court that his client was in India. He informed the court that Mr Rauf would submit his statement on the next date of hearing.
In his reply, the jail superintendent had submitted that the permission of interviews was granted under the police and instruction of the home department under the Jail Manual Rule 543 and 545.
The alleged contemner S. M. Shakil and Javed Hassan Ansari, chief operating officer of the ARY Communication (Pvt) Ltd, who had earlier filed their respective unconditional apologies, also appeared before the court. The judge ordered that their replies would be considered in juxtaposition with the statement to be submitted by Abdur Rauf.
Alleged contemnor Shaikh Amjad, who had kidnapped and killed Barrister Shakir Latif, the 22-year-old son of the applicant, and the jail superintendent had also filed their respective written replies during the previous proceedings.
According to the notice, the TV channel staffers recorded and telecast the interview of condemned prisoner Shaikh Muhammad Amjad, who made derogatory, insulting and objectionable assertions against the ATC-3 and apex courts.
Shaikh Amjad was condemned to death by the ATC-3 for kidnapping and killing the son of his nextdoor neighbour for ransom. He was caught red-handed while phoning the victim’s father from a public booth. He challenged the conviction in the Sindh High Court and subsequently in the Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict of the trial court.
Mr Fazalur Rahman submitted in the court that Shaikh Amjad accused the trial court of using force and torturing him in recording his statement. He also quoted the convict as saying that his tempered statement was presented to the high court.
In his application, Mr Rahman said the scene created by the ARY Digital in presenting the programme gave an impression that the law courts were biased and were functioning only to punish the poor and give relief to the rich. “Bald headed young girls behind the bars were shown crying and begging for mercy thus creating a feeling of hatred against the judicial system of Pakistan”.
The tape of the programme was also submitted to the court. It was played in the open court on the court order.